Q&A with New Director of College and Career Center


IMG_5699With former Director of the College and Career Center Allison Bly stepping down over the summer, PHS was unable to fill the position before the beginning of the school year. New Director of the College and Career Center Kristen Hansen said she began her duties at PHS the week of Sep 17. TPH sat down with Hansen on Sep 13 to learn about what she will bring to PHS.

Q: Why did you decide to apply for this job?

A: I have worked in schools before, and I love the high school environment. I think there is a great energy with students. I love being in a collaborative atmosphere, where people work together towards the same goals. Piedmont has a great reputation. I like that it is a small school, and is not a regional school. I like that it includes the people who live in the town, so it is a smaller, tighter community.

Q: Where did you work before you took this job?

A: Last year, I was working at a private, french school, Lycée Français in San Francisco. I also have worked in community based organizations in San Francisco, working with students who are first generation and under resourced, so I have worked with a lot of high school students in that population. I also was a television producer for 20 years, so this is a change of career. I changed three years ago, into this position. I have worn many hats, and I think it is important for students to know that I have had different careers. I think it is important to know that you can reinvent yourself at different times in your life.

Q: What made you decide that you wanted to be a college counselor?

A: I had always loved working with students. I volunteered a lot, even when I was a television producer, in schools and in youth organizations. When I moved to San Francisco, there were not as many television opportunities, and I wanted to get into a school environment. I loved going through the college process when I was in high school. I love the research behind it. I love learning about new places, new schools, how exciting it can be for students, so I went back to school for college and career counseling. I went to UC Berkeley, which has a program for college and career counseling.

Q: What do your duties include?

A: I am here as a resource for students and parents in the college and career search. I will help as holistically as I can in the process, and work with students who chose to come in. I will offer guidance and support, hopefully in a fun environment. I will provide workshops for parents and students, which will evolve when I figure out what the need is, what the students and parents want, and what will help them the most.

Q: How do you plan to help students here?

A: I am still learning about what the needs are, but I want to have a policy where students can come and ask me any question. No question is silly. If I do not know the answer, I will find it out. I think it is important in this process to not be afraid to ask questions, and not be afraid to get help. At this point, I can say that I want this to be a place where everyone feels comfortable. I will help to figure out what will be the best path for each student. Also, I will be setting up an online appointment system. When the door is open, and I do not have anyone in here, kids can pop in. I will also set up workshops during the day.

Q: What was your college experience like?

A: I had a great college experience. I went to Colgate University, and graduated in four years, loved the liberal arts education, and loved the size. I even loved being in a remote area, because that made me really close with the students that I went to school with. It was another tight community of people, and they are still my best friends.

Q: What do you think students should know about the college application process?

A: They should know that everyone will  take a different path and the process evolves. You have to set your sites large and then start to eliminate things to get to the right place. Be open minded in the process and don’t have too many expectations about what you think you want, because they will change. Be open to new ideas and thoughts of places you want to go, or things you want to do. It is an exciting time to figure out what you want. And that is what is exciting to me about working in college counseling.